Organic Building Materials
The amount of energy used and pollution created from man-made construction materials is astounding. The number and amount of harmful chemicals used is growing all the time, leading to many people becoming allergic or getting sick around new carpets and a wide variety of other materials.
Organic materials such as wood, straw, bamboo, cellulose insulation, clay, natural paints and oils or waxes could be used instead to create low energy buildings that are solid, safe and better for the environment.
Organic materials are grown from seeds and absorb carbon dioxide while they grow. After harvesting, they sequester this greenhouse gas and do not release it into the atmosphere.
Organic building materials can breathe, absorbing and giving off moisture for a healthy indoor environment.
Just like we now associate organic foods with healthier eating, organic construction materials lead to a healthier building. With an emphasis on energy efficiency and sustainability, organic buildings can lead the way.
The warm feeling you get when you enter The Conscious club is partly due to the clay paint and plastering of Tierrafino used throughout the building. But what makes clay so special?
Normal conventional construction can tolerate very little increase in humidity without condensation/mold problems moisture from these sources must be mechanically sucked out of the building. At the same time most heating systems tend to make the air too dry for optimum health, and so buildings must be humidified to reach healthy levels. So on one hand, we are using technology to suck moisture out and on the other, we are using it to add humidity back in!
Certain building materials such as unfired clay and other natural fibers have the ability to naturally regulate indoor humidity provided they are not sealed with impermeable finishes. They can effectively capture humidity when the levels are too high and then release it again once the ambient levels drop thus buffering these extremes and creating natural humidity ranges.
The reason impermeable finishes are used is to make everything impervious for ease of cleaning and maintenance. Surfaces are covered with a thin layer of plastic. These surfaces become reflective and that has a negative impact on the acoustics and can create visual glare.
Did you know that we had an artist clay plaster our walls? He told the builders to be silent so he could put in the love it deserves. Extra love in these walls here!
Besides the clay paint throughout the whole building we've used AQUAMARYN LINOLUX lacquer for all the woodwork.
AQUAMARYN has been making sustainable paint since the early 80's and was the first paint producer who focussed on developing natural paint on the basis of renewable raw materials. It's the only producer in The Netherlands with a complete sustainable paint assortment.
Linolux lacquer is made of a minimal of 92% natural raw materials. It's a water-based sealer and Dutch linseed oil is the most used ingredient.
Linseed oil, also known as flaxseed oil or flax oil, is a colourless to yellowish oil obtained from the dried, ripened seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum).
Why use organic finishes?
Like paints, clear finishes can contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to air pollution and can cause health problems. Finishes can have a greater effect than paint on your home’s air quality, however, because they must be reapplied more frequently on high-use surfaces like floors, tables, and chairs. Toxic and polluting ingredients such as toluene and xylene are common solvents.
For the floor we worked with the advice of Van Binnen, the first store in the Netherlands that sells environmental friendly interior design.
If you look at the floor at The Conscious Club, you see a sand-cement floor polished off with a natural hard-wax oil in two layers. Sunflower, soya, linseed and thistle oils are the basis for this finish. The natural wax is classified as food safe and the pigment do not contain any harmful heavy metals, dis-aromatised white spirit ensures that the finishes are easy to spread.
But why are natural floors healthier?
Most types of unnatural paint’s, finishing’s and other building materials contain VOC (volatile organic compounds), which are particles that float through the air and can be toxic. Many of these VOC can cause severe health problems like cancer and are at the root of "The Sick Building Syndrome".